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Farm Management
First Posted Nov 14, 2007
Jul 25, 2010

Funding for Model Horse Farm

Funding Available for "Model" Horse Farms: The Bay-Friendly Horse Farm Project

The Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District (PWSWCD) submitted a proposal to cooperate with the horse community to address the challenges of pasture, mud, and manure management, along with waterway protection -in innovative and cost-effective ways. PWSWCD has been awarded more than $121,000 from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Water Quality Incentive Fund. An equal amount has raised by PWSWCD through partnerships to invest in site selection, research, implementation, and education.

PWSWCD is now seeking two horse farms that will become "models"using management practices such as bluestone dust confinement/exercise paddocks, manure composting structures, pasture seeding and renovation, rotational grazing systems with multiple water troughs, and stream protection through fencing and engineered crossings. Practices will be implemented on a site-specific basis. Cooperating farms will receive all necessary financial and technical assistance to implement these practices.

Interested horse farms must be located in Prince William County, present a water quality problem to be addressed, and demonstrate a willingness to adopt new practices on their farm. For more information or to request that your horse farm be considered for this project contact Kate Norris, District Manager with Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District at (703) 594-3621 or email katenorris @pwswcd.org.

Results will be shared locally and state-wide so that all horse farm owners can become models of environmental stewardship, maximizing land use while protecting valuable natural resources.

Funding Available for "Model" Horse Farms: The Bay-Friendly Horse Farm Project

A Patchy, Ollie and Rusty (front to back)

Healthy and happy horses enjoy grazing on a picturesque, small-acreage and environmentally-savvy horse farm in Gainesville. Is your farm equally as "Green" or are you "green with envy?"

Why is "The Bay-Friendly Horse Farm Project" a unique opportunity?

  • In recent years the District has administered the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Cost-Share and Tax Credit Program. Participants in the cost-share program must now meet strict eligibility requirements that exclude all horse farms except those that have been consistently breeding horses for profit over that past several years. State tax credits are still available to address water quality problems on horse farms. Our Project will focus on all types and sizes of horse farms, businesses or private that impact local streams.
  • Participants in the Virginia program must follow construction specifications and management guidelines that aren't always horse-friendly. In almost all cases these specifications were designed for other livestock-beef cattle, dairy cows, or even poultry. Our Project is designed to meet the special needs of equines, considering horse and environmental health as well as aesthetics. We understand many of our farms are our homes, often located within suburban communities
  • The Virginia program requires us to select practices from a list and try to fit them to the farm. Our Project will address the unique physical features and management styles of the two selected farms. Engineering solutions will be researched, developed, and implemented with the property owners by conservationists, horse farm owners, and engineers who have volunteered their time for the Project.
  • Farms that participate in the Virginia program are not open to the public for education. Our "model" farm owners must agree to open their farm to the horse community at specific and mutually agreed upon times to share our challenges and successes with the horse community.
  • The practices in the Virginia program are often unnecessarily expensive. Our Project is designed to identify effective and affordable solutions that any horse farm can implement without financial assistance.
  • The Virginia program provides up to 75% cost-share reimbursement for structural practices. Our Project includes 100% funding for structural practices such as fencing, watering systems, sacrifice area paddocks, guttering, manure storage, pasture seeding and fertilization etc.
  • The Virginia program has been developed by the State government to serve the needs of traditional agricultural operations. The technical advisory committee that considers changes to the Virginia program has representatives from various conservation and agriculture agencies. The Virginia Poultry Federation, the Virginia State Dairymen's Association, and the Virginia Pork Industry Board are represented on this advisory committee. The Virginia horse industry is not. Our Project has representatives from our local horse community, natural resource conservation specialists, local elected officials, and other interested citizens. Partners are as follows:

Angler Environmental is a full service environmental consulting and construction firm with offices throughout the state of Virginia. They provide professional engineering, consulting, and construction services focused on streams, wetlands, storm water facilities, ponds, and lakes throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. Angler will be offering engineering consultations. Their expertise will be utilized for evaluating potential BMPs.

Blue Top Farm is owned and operated by Robin Lancaster. Ms. Lancaster is a District Cooperator and Bay Friendly/Clean Water Farm Award winner with expertise in engineering design. She has implemented traditional and innovative practices on her horse boarding operation. Ms. Lancaster will help research, design and evaluate the BMPs.

The Clean Water Project (CWP) is an incorporated, non-profit organization that provides scientific research and education that aids in the improvement of both surface waters and systemic improvement of aquatic resources within the state. CWP will assist with stream assessment using the Unified Stream Methodology to help identify potential model farms and to document improvements.

Culpeper Farmer's Cooperative and Home Center (CFC) was founded by local farmers who were seeking a better way to purchase farm supplies in 1932. They sell basic feed and farm supplies through six retail stores. The CFC will assist with supplies and consultation related to pasture renovation and BMP installation.

Ducks Unlimited (DU) conserves, restores and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people. DU will provide consultation services related to stream and wetland restoration on the model farms.

Luck Stone quarry strives to be a steward of the environment and a community supporter by forming partnerships with like-minded entities and giving back to various organizations that embody similar values. Luck Stone will donate supplies for BMP installation.

Mistfield Farm is owned by Pete Shiner a Prince William SWCD Director, Cooperator, Bay Friendly/Clean Water Farm Award winner, and small-acreage farm owner. Mr. Shiner will help throughout the Project implementation process, concentrating on research and development of BMPs for manure composting and sacrifice areas.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Since 1935, NRCS has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America's private land owners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources. NRCS employees provide technical assistance based on sound science and suited to a customer's specific needs. NRCS will assist with BMP sizing and cost estimates.

Nokesville Horse Society (NHS) is dedicated to the improvement and preservation of the equestrian community in Northern Virginia. As part of that mission they seek to support issues related to horse care and management, including issues related to the environment. NHS will help advertise the project and, through its' membership of 700, help evaluate BMPs from the perspective of the average horse owner.

Northern Virginia Coalition of Equestrian Organizations (NVCEO) represents thousands of equestrians belonging to 17 separate member organizations. The NVCEO encourages collaborative action and efficient use of resources by the Northern Virginia equestrian community in the education and influence of local and region decision makers. The NVCEO will help to promote participation in the Project, evaluate proposed BMPs, and share outcomes.

Ana Pimsler, Photographer is a horse enthusiast and freelance photographer. Ms. Pimsler will donate photography and production time to publicize the project.

Prince William County - Watershed Management helps to ensure the County meets its' comprehensive planning goals to educate citizens on water quality issues, protect waterways, and encourage farmers to use BMPs. PWC will provide engineer consultation and will cooperate with the District to add a GIS layer to the County mapping system that shows farms with BMPs and conservation plans.

Prince William County Supervisors - Martin Nohe, John Stirrup, and Wally Covington understand the importance of locally led conservation and will provide monetary support for the Project. Supervisors Stirrup and Covington represent the areas that have the majority of horse farms in the County.

Robert Patterson, Attorney at Law will provide legal counsel to ensure the State funds used for BMP improvements are protected under contract with the model farm participants. Participants must agree to maintain the practices, allow access for continued monitoring of the BMPs, and access for educational purposes. This responsibility will transfer to any new property owners for a set life span.

Thomas Jefferson SWCD is also working with their local horse community to install BMPs using grant funds. The two districts will share information on design and construction of BMPs.

Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) - Northern District Equine Agent, Dr. Shea Porr will assist with evaluation of proposed BMPs, especially from the perspective of equine health and safety. VCE will also assist with education related to the Project.

Virginia Tech - Biological Systems Engineering, Dr. Tess Wynn and technicians will conduct the rainfall simulator evaluations of the model farms before and after BMP installation.

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Agricultural Stewardship Act compliance investigator Darrell Marshall will provide information on the most common "founded" complaints on horse farms.

Yankey Farm Service is a local seed and service provider specializing in small acreage farms. Mr. Yankey also has expertise in conservation and is a DCR-certified nutrient management planner. He will supply no-till seeding services for pasture renovation.

Thank you to our many wonderful grant partners and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for funding this ambitious project.

We're looking for two horse farms that are desperately struggling with pasture, mud, and manure management challenges and are in close proximity to a waterway. Interested candidates must be ready to make major management changes and accept the technical and financial help offered. If you have questions or are interested in being considered for this project, please contact Kate Norris at (703) 594-3621 or email katenorris @pwswcd.org. "Model Farms" will be identified by January 2008 so that we can proceed with this 2 year project.

Help lead the way to a cleaner Chesapeake Bay!

Funding provided by:

Farm Management Index